I don’t know who needs to hear this right now but you’re doing a great job. Full stop.
With another month of sheltering in place on the horizon it’s easy to get frustrated, and sometimes feel guilty, for all the things one cannot do in their job to better serve students. Challenges are real – technology limits, lack of private space, caring for others – and they are felt by everyone, some more than others. If you need assistance, please ask for it.
Last night, the FHDA Board of Trustees passed a resolution proclaiming May 17-23 Classified Staff Appreciation week. Many well-deserved kind words were shared about the invaluable contribution classified make in support of students, especially during this pandemic. While it may not feel like it, your work does not go unnoticed.
Stay well, stay safe.
Chris White, ACE President
(650) 949-7789, office
“The fight is never about lettuce or grapes. It is always about people”. – César Chávez
Working Remotely Survey Results
Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to our working remotely survey. 54% of you responded and we wanted to take a moment to address some of the issues/concerns which resonated throughout your answers.
- What is the plan for returning to work on-site? On May 4th, Chancellor Miner sent an email extending the shelter in place through May 31 and indicated that the following week she will be announcing plans for fall classes and initial thoughts on what it will take for us to return to campus. It will mostly like to include continuing to work remotely as a first option, staggering on-site personnel if needed on campus, and surveying employees and students on what options they would like to see moving forward. ACE has made note that safety precautions – masks, clear shields between employee and public, rigorous and ongoing cleaning – are a priority for any employee required to return to campus.
- Altered work schedules. As employees continue to navigate working remotely, some have found their traditional 8-5 work schedule isn’t working – sharing computers, limited internet, lack of personal space – and have a need to alter work hours. Work with your supervisor to set up a schedule that works for you both. Communication and a whole lot of grace are essential here. Be certain those whom you work with know your work schedule, set boundaries, and stick to them. Take your breaks and clock out when you’re supposed too. I find setting an alarm helps a lot. I don’t look at email outside of my working hours and texting to my personal phone, if I say it is ok, is limited to work hours only. If someone can’t follow that rule, I block them. They still have my work phone and email as a means of contact. If you are working above eight hours a day or more than 40 hours in a week, the same overtime rules apply (article 13.2). If you find you’re having difficulty with your supervisor around work boundaries, contact ACE.
- Equipment. You should not have to purchase any equipment or upgrade the internet connection out of your own pocket. Technology assistance is available through the District. Work with your supervisor to get what you need. With Office 365, fillable PDFs, and AdobeSign, mean you should not need to print out items. If you’re using a laptop, a larger second monitor is a great option.
- Will there be opportunities to come onto campus to get the equipment or needed documents? As of today, none are scheduled. If you absolutely need equipment not want because it makes things easier – like an ergonomic keyboard or assistive device – contact your supervisor who will work with senior management and the police, if approved, to arrange a time for pick up. We have a very small police staff and limiting personnel on campus is as much for their safety as yours. With a lot of vacant computer labs and expensive equipment on campus they need to make sure it is still there when we return. That’s hard to monitor if half of them are out sick.
- Can we be reimbursed for additional utility costs as a result of working from home? No. As part of the alternate work location (AWL) guidelines, you assume all costs associated with AWL. As mentioned above, the District has provided technology assistance for hardware and internet services if you need it.
- What if I am asked to come back to work but I have health conditions that put me at greater risk? We will take these on a case by case basis, but ultimately, if you cannot work remotely and you are uncomfortable returning to campus you can use your paid leave (vacation or comp time) or unpaid leave to cover the time off. As I have said on more than one occasion, the District has been very considerate in finding ways to get the work done and keep employees safe. There is no indication that they are in any rush to alter the course.
- Is there a risk of being laid off if work duties from the home end or there is nothing I can do from home? This is temporary and those services will resume when we get back to campus. Between layoff rules (60-day notice minimum) and bumping rights, the time it would take to enact reductions would most likely coincide with a return to campus and we would need that work anyways. Even if people aren’t working at 100%, there is no fiscal impact to the District. We’re still paid the same by the state. Take this opportunity to do any training you’ve been meaning to get too, clean up your files, learn a new skill in Office 365, or any other skill that will enhance your ability to do your job.
- After this is over, will there be an opportunity to continue working remotely? For at least ten years, the ACE Agreement has allowed for the option to work remotely (article 13.2.6). “At the request of the worker, and if the needs of the department can be met, the worker may be permitted to work out of his or her home via a computer terminal. The request and subsequent permission, if granted, shall be in writing”. Simply put it’s an agreement between you and your supervisor. What the shelter in place (SIP) has taught us is that most work can be done remotely and refusal has nothing to do with liability, security, or any other reason that has been given when classified have asked to exercise this option. It’s a matter of managing. In addition to supporting employees, providing more flexible and remote work options has proven to be good for the environment. As an organization interested in sustainability, wouldn’t we want to do our part to keep this shift moving in the right direction? Additionally, while older technology and limited funding for upgrades were a legitimate issue, lucky for us we just passed an $898 million dollar bond. Money which could be used to provide appropriate resources for employees to easily work remotely.
De Anza President Finalist Candidate Forums
All forums conducted via Zoom. These are specific to classified employees.
Candidate 1: Monday, May 11, 9:55 – 10:50 am
Candidate 2: Tuesday, May 12, 9:55 – 10:50 am
Candidate 3: Wednesday, May 13, 9:55 – 10:50 am
Candidate 4: Thursday, May 14, 9:55 – 10:50 am
Candidate names have not been released and most likely will not be until just before the first forum.
As you know, ACE takes personnel issues and confidentiality very seriously. Just because you don’t hear of issues we are dealing with doesn’t mean we’re not working to support members. Not our story to tell. With that in mind, we did want to give you a glimpse of one particularly egregious item we have been addressing.
2020-2021 Budget News
In normal times the State would be releasing their May budget revise and we would be planning for 2020-201 but these aren’t normal times. Here is what we know.
- Due to COVID 19, the legislature has been out for seven weeks and is looking to reconvene, in a limited capacity, next week. The state budget under the state Constitution has to be passed by June but when the epidemic hit, tax deadlines were extended — meaning the Legislature really doesn’t know how much money will be coming in by the time they need to pass a budget. They will pass some sort of placeholder budget but it’s not going to really reflect the amount of revenue coming into the state and they won’t really know that until July. For FHDA, that means we won’t have a better idea until August.
- With what will most likely be a budget shortfall, the State has indicated they will be applying a deficit factor for 2019-2020 which has typically been one-percent of our allocated budget but could go as high as ten percent. For FHDA, one-percent is roughly $1.6 million dollars. This means we will be getting less than what was anticipated for this current year, and while we are in hold-harmless funding, we will not be exempt from this deficit factor. The District does have a $22 million dollar rate stabilization fund to help offset some of this shortfall.
- Enrollment continues to decline. Under the new Student-Centered Funding Formula, the District receives hold harmless funding (approximately $17 million) to bridge the gap from our 2017-18 apportionment compared to the number of students we serve today. This funding has been allocated through 2021-2022 but must be approved by the legislature every year. The District is cautiously optimistic that we may see a boost in fall enrollment, as historically has been the trend when unemployment is high, but it won’t close the funding gap when hold-harmless runs out.
- The passing of an $898 million bond is good news for the District but that money is restricted to facilities and infrastructure needs, not salary. In previous bonds, we have been able to shift some personnel costs directly associated with bond work (purchasing, some ETS, and facility functions) but it will not be instrumental in helping make up the budget shortfall we are going to experience.
This is a long-winded way of saying we are sliding into challenging budget times, again. There are still many unknowns so it is difficult to say what this means, if anything, in terms of reductions. To be clear, your ability to do 100% of your job remotely during this pandemic is not a reason the District would look to make cuts. When we get back to campus, to in-person interaction, those job duties will return. This is an enrollment problem, exacerbated by a new funding formula that doesn’t work for us, and we have to figure out how we’re going to meet those shortfalls on an ongoing basis, not this temporary glitch in the Matrix. As an initial step to address this challenge, senior management is reviewing all classified and administrator hire requests to determine if they should go forward. It’s not a hiring freeze. There are no other timelines, lists, or any other action related to reductions. Full stop.
Resources for Professional Development
If you do find yourself with a little extra time in the workday, the District has been supportive in encouraging employees to find creative ways to enhance their job skills. The Vision Resource Center through the State Chancellor’s Office is a great resource for additional training directly related to community colleges with topics like Learning Zoom, Tips for Working Remotely, Supporting Undocumented Students, Dual Enrollment, and Ergonomics 101, just to name a few. These courses are eligible for PGA under section five.
If you haven’t completed the Security Awareness Training, you must do so by May 20. You will find a link to this training in MyPortal under Cyber Security. This training is required and not eligible for PGA.
Human resources also offered some suggestions for enriching your work here.
PGA and CalPERS – Request for Previous Application Materials
For members affected by CalPERS’ decision to only include section one of the Professional Growth Award (PGA) application towards pensionable income.
- If you would like to review your previous award(s) information, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your CWID.
- This request is for a copy of your completed application(s) and the tally sheet(s) used by the PGA committee. No back up material will be provided. This should help you determine how many hours you have under section one, whether they were used for an award or carried forward, to estimate how many of your completed PGA’s are eligible as pensionable income per CalPERS. 200 hours of credit equals one award. For example, if you’ve completed eight awards but only have 1,000 hours in section one, CalPERS will credit five awards as pensionable (5 x 200 = 1,000 hours).
- Turn around time to receive the request for information is approximately two weeks. To not overburden an already short-staffed human resources department. Your patience is appreciated.
If you would like all of your PGA’s to qualify as special compensation under CalPERS’ rules, we have already negotiated additional funding ($20,000 per year for two years) for affected employees to take courses at no cost to replace hours on already earned PGAs which are not pensionable. In addition, we are still working with the District on an MOU to hopefully include courses which were taken but not included on an application, waiving the requirement for a 100 new hours per award, and/or allowing courses taken on Staff Development Leave (SDL) which were paid with educational assistance. ACE and the District are committed to helping staff have as many previously earned PGAs count towards pensionable income as possible.
As a reminder, awards are still worth $90 each. It is only the activities under CalPERS rules for educational incentive special compensation which has changed.